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Elijah Wood Works Through Some Parental Issues In “Come To Daddy”

The creative forces behind Come to Daddy clearly take delight in shocking their audience. The film, a mix of comedy, horror, and thriller, seeks to upend expectations at all turns. Sometimes they succeed, while at other times, they fall a little bit short. The end result is a unique little movie, one that aims high with its genre ambitions. If it doesn’t quite reach the intended heights, there’s still a devilish streak of wit throughout that makes it more than just a garden variety independent flick. Having been on the festival circuit for nearly a year (beginning last April at the Tribeca Film Festival), it’s finally hitting screens this weekend and is worth a look.

The movie is a mix, as mentioned above, of comedy, horror, and thriller. For Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood), life has been one full of privilege, but ultimately one lacking in happiness. Deep into his 30s but still living at home with his mother, Norval is a recovering alcoholic who never really knew his father. Then, out of the blue one day, he receives a letter from the estranged family patriarch, asking him to come visit. Hoping that reconnecting with his dad will provide some level of catharsis and emotional fulfillment, he hops on a bus to the waterfront property his father calls home. Maybe he’ll find what he’s been lacking there? Instead, he finds a deeply strange man (Stephen McHattie), one deeply uninterested in explaining why he summoned him, and barely even interested in his presence. It only gets weirder from there. Ant Timpson directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Toby Harvard. Karl Steven provides the music, while the cinematography is by Daniel Katz. Supporting players include Martin Donovan, Ona Grauer, Madeleine Sami, Michael Smiley, Garfield Wilson, and more.

Elijah Wood delivers one of his most idiosyncratic turns to date here. Truly, Wood is the reason why the film works. His performance is quirky yet empathetic, which is essential as things get more and more out there. The other performances go very big, whether it’s Martin Donovan, Stephen McHattie, or Michael Smiley, so while Wood isn’t exactly going in the opposite direction, he’s subtle by comparison. It’s a choice that winds up paying dividends by the time the end credits roll. Especially for stretches when he’s alone, Wood is more than able to carry the picture.

Come to Daddy has its fair share of missteps. Co-writer/director Ant Timpson, along with scribe Toby Harvard, think that their premise is a bit more clever than it actually is. They infuse enough wit into things in order to mask that, but it’s still a concept that’s more stretched out than necessary. Despite being only a little over an hour and a half long, it feels much longer. Again, Wood basically saves the day, but Harvard and Timpson wind up slightly more amused by the story they are telling than the audience will be. Additionally, Timpson’s direction is a mix of some very striking shots, but also some very murky ones. He’s going to be a good filmmaker, but he’s still coming into his own.

Starting on Friday, audiences looking for a unique little genre feature can do a hell of a lot worse than Come to Daddy. Elijah Wood sells the premise pretty well, and even if the flaws prevent this from being any kind of instant classic, it’s still the sort of indie that can develop a cult following. After having premiered at Tribeca last year, it finally hits theaters tomorrow after building a nice little following. Give it a shot…

Be sure to check out Come to Daddy, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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